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Attorney's Letter To Jurors Questioned
Court Issues | 2008/09/24 14:11
An attorney may face federal contempt charges for contacting jurors who ruled against his client in a civil rights case. James Ensz sent a questionnaire to the jurors this month after representing a Lee's Summit police officer, court records indicate.

Ensz represented Lee's Summit Police Officer Richard McKinley, who was sued for allegedly conspiring to arrest Theodore White on trumped-up child molestation charges. The jury awarded White $16 million after White spent 5 years in prison before being acquitted.

White claimed McKinley hid evidence and covered up an affair he had with White's estranged wife, whom McKinley later married.

In the questionnaire, Ensz asked jurors whether they found certain witnesses credible, how much certain pieces of evidence affected their decision, whether they felt the judge favored one side or the other, and asked for specific examples of favoritism and how it affected the verdict.

Court documents show that U.S. District Judge Nancy Laughrey held a telephone conference with attorneys to discuss the questionnaire.

"The court informed Mr. Ensz that it is inappropriate to send out correspondence to the jury ... A party must obtain permission from the court in advance of contacting any juror," the meeting's minutes state.

Judge Laughrey has scheduled an Oct. 14 contempt hearing for Ensz.

Ensz defended his actions in a memo requesting that the hearing be canceled.

"There is nothing inappropriate about the questions asked, nor is there any pressure placed upon jurors to respond to the questionnaire should they choose not to respond," Ensz wrote.

There is no set penalty for Ensz if he is found guilty of contempt, but federal guidelines allow fines and jail time.


EPA Must Set Pollution Standards for Builders
Law Firm News | 2008/09/23 13:58
The Environmental Protection Agency must develop pollution standards for storm water runoff from construction sites or risk violation of the Clean Water Act, the 9th Circuit ruled.

The EPA identified the construction industry as a "point-source category" of pollution in its 2000 environmental plan, but then exempted the industry from the plan in 2004, skipping a three-year deadline to develop standards after listing.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, along with the Waterkeeper Alliance, filed suit against the EPA and its administrator, Stephen Johnson, for violating their duty to "promulgate effluent limitation guidelines and new source performance standards" for toxic storm water runoff from construction sites.

The environmental groups have standing because the polluted storm water ran into waterways that the groups' members use for recreation, the appeals court ruled. The National Association of Home Builders and Associated General Contractors of America, intervening on behalf of the government, argued that even if the runoff contained pollutants, the water wasn't toxic. The 9th Circuit disagreed. "In fact, the EPA has explicitly stated that storm water runoff from construction sites includes toxic and non-conventional pollutants," Judge Smith wrote.

The Clean Water Act clearly outlines the EPA's responsibility to develop standards for polluters within three years of developing a plan, the ruling states. The Act does not give the EPA authority to remove a point-source category from its plan once it is identified, or the three-year deadline would be meaningless, the court ruled. Also, the intensive listing process, which allows for public review and comment, shows that the agency seriously considered adding the construction industry before its listing.

"The three-year delay ... is not to decide whether to list a point-source category," Smith wrote, "but to allow the EPA to consider what the substance of the (standards) should be."


Psychologist group bars participation in interrogations
Law Firm News | 2008/09/22 14:01
The American Psychological Association announced Wednesday that it had adopted a measure prohibiting members from participating in interrogations of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay and other military prisons where suspects have allegedly been tortured. The resolution, approved by a vote of 8,792 to 6,157 members, represents a reversal in position by the group, which last year rejected a similar ban. The measure states:
   Whereas torture is an abhorrent practice in every way contrary to the APA's stated mission of advancing psychology as a science, as a profession, and as a means of promoting human welfare.

   Whereas the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Mental Health and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture have determined that treatment equivalent to torture has been taking place at the United States Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

   Whereas this torture took place in the context of interrogations under the direction and supervision of Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs) that included psychologists....

   Be it resolved that psychologists may not work in settings where persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law or the US Constitution, unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights.
The resolution will take effect by the APA's next annual meeting, in August 2009.

Last year, APA members passed a resolution stating that the group opposed the use of torture and specifying which practices it found particularly inhumane, including mock executions, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation. The American Medical Association in 2006 adopted ethical guidelines restricting physician participation in interrogations, following the approval of a similar policy by the American Psychiatric Association. According to a report by the US Defense Department [official website], psychologists have been involved in military interrogations since 2002. Mental health specialists were also reportedly involved in prisoner abuse scandals at Guantanamo and at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.


O.J. Team Says Cops Were Out To Get Him
Law Firm News | 2008/09/19 14:12
The defense team in O.J. Simpson's burglary and kidnapping trial on Thursday tried to paint a picture that police were out to get him. Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, made Las Vegas Metro police Det. Andy Caldwell read a transcript of a secret recording made by Tom Riccio, the memorabilia broker who set up the meeting at the Palace Station Hotel between Simpson and memorabilia dealers Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong.

"California can't get him. Now we'll be able to blank got him," (sic) Caldwell read, quoting an unidentified civilian police employee who allegedly made the remark while questioning Riccio in his hotel room after the incident.

The person quoted seemed to be referring to Simpson's acquittal in 1995 in Los Angeles for the stabbing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

Caldwell also testified Thursday in Clark County District Court that he and his crew did not immediately arrest Simpson due to "the nature of the case," and said that they chose instead to conduct surveillance on the former football star. Simpson was arrested days after the incident.

Riccio had planted a recording device in his hotel room while being questioned by police after the alleged Sept. 13, 2007 heist. He's also responsible for the seven secret recordings admitted as evidence Wednesday, dealing with events leading up to, during and after the alleged hold-up.

Riccio testified on Thursday that he often secretly records things because, as a memorabilia broker, it's his best defense to ensure that people follow through on promises.

The colorful memorabilia broker was granted full legal immunity for his cooperation in the case.
    He testified that he set up the meeting after receiving a phone call from Beardsley, who told him he had some of Simpson's items.

"He said, 'Don't call O.J. up because this stuff is stolen from his trophy room,'" Riccio testified.

When District Attorney Chris Owens asked what he did next, Riccio drew laughs from the courtroom with his blunt answer: "I called O.J. up."

Also Thursday, Brent Bryson, attorney for Simpson's co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart, made his daily plea to have his client tried separately from Simpson. Again, Judge Jackie Glass denied the request.

Here is a link to Clark County District Court Web site, which contains 202 pages of transcripts, dubbed the "Riccio Recordings," allegedly from Riccio's tapes (scroll down to Documents).


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